Pan-Seared Tofu with Soy Dipping Sauce

Amanda Knox is out of an Italian prison. Do you wonder what really happened? So many things seem sketchy about this whole case: the prosecutor, the evidence (or the lack thereof), the accused themselves, etc. The story reads like a lurid tabloid fodder. I feel sad for everyone involved though – the families, of course, the victim, and even the accused. The stink of being accused of murder is impossible to get off, even if you had nothing to do with, especially in the age of fast and loose internet access. Everyone has an opinion about everything. I mean, look at me! I’m writing about it!

To inject a little levity to this serious situation, I would like to share a little tidbit about a Korean custom. In Korea, tofu is given to people right out of prison. This is thought to keep them out of prison in the future. No; the tofu isn’t thought to ward off evil spirits or bad luck that may land them back in prison and help them in their life of crime. Instead, the tofu symbolizes a future of a crime-free life. More specifically, white color of the tofu symbolizes purity, innocence, and starting anew. So I decided to make some pan-seared tofu in the spirit of this symbolism. It’s a positive thing. We all need a reminder to be good at times, albeit for the smaller things in life.

Pan-Seared Tofu with Soy Dipping Sauce Recipe
Makes 4 Servings as a Side Dish or Appetizer
1 package extra-firm (sprouted) tofu, 14-16 oz.
2 TB low-sodium tamari (gluten-free soy sauce)
1 TB brown rice vinegar
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tsp toasted sesame oil
1 tsp crushed toasted sesame seeds
pinch gochugaru (Korean red pepper flakes/powder)
1 scallion, chopped into thin rings: optional
canola oil
sea salt

  1. In a small bowl, stir together minced garlic and brown rice vinegar; this should help take some bite out of the raw garlic. Set aside.
  2. Slice the tofu into thick square or rectangular pieces – about ½ inch in thickness. Pat the tofu pieces with paper towels to remove any excess water. Place a nonstick pan on medium-high heat. Add enough oil to coat the bottom of the pan.
  3. Lightly salt the tofu on both sides (This really makes a difference in taste). Once the pan has been heated, add sliced tofu to the pan in a single layer and sear for 2-3 minutes on each side until crisp. A light crust should form on both sides.
  4. Add soy sauce, toasted sesame oil, crushed toasted sesame seed, chopped scallions, and gochugaru to the vinegar/garlic bowl from step 1. Stir well.
  5. Once tofu is nicely seared on both sides, serve immediately with the dipping sauce. Alternatively, you can drizzle the sauce over the seared tofu and serve.

  6. We enjoyed the tofu with (what else?) some steamed rice and a lovely glass of Soave. Soave, an Italian white that has largely been neglected in favor of the Pinot Grigio, is quite crisp and refreshing. And it pairs well with hors d’oeuvres and light dishes. It was absolutely perfect with the seared tofu.


09. October 2011 by gomo
Categories: Appetizer, Banchan, Dairy-Free, Dips/Spreads/Sauces, Gluten-Free, Korean Food, Side Dish, Vegan, Vegetarian | Tags: | 9 comments

Comments (9)

  1. i thought this dish looked familiar! This is served fairly often for lunch at the school I teach at in Korea. Nice to see that I can recognize it (but this one has much better presentation^^)!

  2. I used to cook tofu a lot. But this was before I gave birth to my little girl, who happens to be g6pd (a disease charcterized by oversensitivity to soy and soy products, sulfa, etc…) I avoided tofu because I was breastfeeding then, now I am still avoiding it because it is the safest way to go (at least for now that my daughter is a toddler, and eats everything that is on the dining table…)I have never tasted tofu since 2009 and I really miss these kinds of dishes. I’m bookmarking this page because I know someday I will be able to taste tofu again…And it has to be something special as this. Come to think of it, it is symbolically related to being out of prison when I taste tofu once again…

    • Sorry to hear about your daughter’s sensitivity. I have a lot of those as well – but mainly dairy and wheat. It can get a little tough for my husband at times. I’m sure he feels your pain!

      I will be sure to post more yummy tofu dishes in the future for you to try once you are out of “prison.” 🙂

  3. Simple yet delicious and nutritious! Loves with that dipping sauce that goes well with it.

    • Mel, I love the garlic in the sauce so much that I use a little spoon to scoop up the garlic just to make sure I have some with each bite!

  4. This is pretty authentic. I’m from Korea and this is how I used to eat tofu all the time… love the soy sauce with a little bit of sesame oil, korean chili flakes, and sesame seeds… so good!

    • Yeah! This is how my grandma and mom used to make it for me (very minor differences aside). It’s a easy, healthy, tasty dish!

  5. Pingback: Tasty Tofu Recipes Everyone Will Devour | Yummly

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